Litigation & dispute resolution

Our South Australian solicitors are strong and effective advocates for clients in matters before courts and tribunals, and are highly experienced in litigation across a wide range of areas of law.

We identify and focus on the issues that are important to our clients, which enables us to effectively strive for the best outcome for each client’s particular circumstances.

In addition, Johnston Withers’ team is highly skilled in assisting clients in mediation and other forms of dispute resolution.

Johnston Withers has the breadth of experience to offer litigation and dispute resolution in the following areas:

  • Personal injury
  • Workers compensation
  • Employment law
  • Family law
  • Defamation
  • Commercial litigation

Commercial/Contract disputes

Due to the nature of contracts, it is almost inevitable that disputes will sometimes arise over the performance or interpretation of a contract. These disputes can become protracted and costly, and do long-term damage to the relationships of all involved, so it is therefore crucial you receive honest and practical advice at the earliest opportunity.

Our experienced Commercial Team will provide honest advice about written, verbal or implied contracts and their terms, and your obligations and rights under them. Once you know where you stand, we can act on your behalf in any proceedings, including litigation or alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation.

We understand your priority is to resolve any disputes quickly and in a cost-effective way. We will also work with you to preserve the relationships with other parties wherever possible, in order to protect your business’long term commercial interests.

Consumer protection disputes

Many protections for consumers exist in Australia under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (formerly the Trade Practices Act 1974). Consumer affairs is also regulated via the national body, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) provides for specific protection in many instances, for example against misleading and deceptive conduct and misrepresentation. Therefore, if you have been sold a product or service that does not do what you were promised via advertising or a sales representative, you may have avenues for recovery.

In addition, the ACL provides general protections by requiring traders to act in good faith toward their customers. Therefore, you may also be entitled to remedy if you have been the victim of unconscionable conduct when purchasing a product or service, or where unfair terms of a contract have bee imposed on you.

We encourage you to contact us if you are a consumer wanting advice, or a business who will be affected by the Act.

Insurance disputes

Insurance disputes, where an insurance company refuses to pay out your claim, often add a great deal of stress to an already difficult time.

Some examples where a dispute may arise include:

  • total and permanent disablement policies
  • motor vehicle insurance
  • home and contents insurance
  • accident and income protection policies

In many of these examples, insurance payouts can be crucial in enabling you to move on or receive necessary medical care and ongoing support.

Our experienced team can negotiate and act on your behalf in order to ensure you receive what you are entitled to, even after an initial rejection. Our reputation as a strong but fair firm mean we are well-placed to negotiate on your behalf.

Professional negligence claims

When you engage the services of a professional (such as a lawyer, accountant or engineer), that person is bound by professional standards. If they have not adhered to them, and this has caused you financial loss, you may be entitled to compensation.

Some of the situations where a professional negligence claim can arise include:

  • poor advice from a financial planner
  • mistakes by accountants
  • negligence by a solicitor
  • inappropriate real estate valuations

If you believe you have suffered loss due to professional negligence, do not hesitate to contact Johnston Withers in order to find out about your options.

Property disputes (e.g. Nuisance/Breach of land sale agreements)

Johnston Withers’ has an experienced and highly skilled team of lawyers able to advise individuals and companies with regard to property disputes. With a dedicated and effective Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, you can be assured that you will receive the best service, advice and advocacy.

Nuisance

Every homeowner or occupier has the right to quiet enjoyment of their property, notwithstanding the occasional annoyance or disturbance by your neighbours. Therefore, if your neighbour is acting in a way that is causing a serious and unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of your property, you might have remedy under the law of nuisance.

There are a lot of factors which will be taken into consideration when determining whether remedy is available under the law of nuisance. These include the nature of the activity causing the nuisance, whether it is ongoing, the time of day that the nuisance is occurring and whether the average, reasonable person is likely to consider the behaviour as a nuisance.

If you think your rights are being infringed, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will provide an honest and practical assessment of your claim, and act for you in any proceedings or negotiations.

Breach of land sale agreements

Contracts for the sale and purchase of land are frequently complex, containing many terms which place obligations on both parties. If the purchaser or vendor fails to comply with the terms of the contract, that party is said to be in breach of the land sale agreement and the other party may have an avenue for remedy under law.

However, these disputes are frequently complicated and may involve issues such as contractual interpretation. There can also be other factors involved when a contract is signed subject to other conditions, such as the acquisition of finance.

As a result, in situations where a breach is suspected it is crucial to obtain legal advice as to your rights and obligations. Johnston Withers will provide you with honest and practical advice, as well as assist in any proceedings or negotiations to enable you to receive the best outcome.

Lease disputes

The frequency with which lease disputes occur is one of the main reasons it is desirable to seek advice before entering into these agreements. However, sometimes even with the best prior planning, disputes can arise and these can quickly become protracted and costly.

Some of the instances where a dispute may arise include:

  • failure to pay rent
  • breach of the terms of the Lease Agreement; such as subletting without permission
  • damage to the premises or unauthorised alterations
  • failure to maintain the premises by either Tenant or Landlord
  • tenant’s refusal to vacate the premises at the end of the lease
  • landlord not providing Tenant with quiet enjoyment of the premises
  • landlord withholding the security deposit (bond)
  • tenant being locked out of the premises without adequate notice of the breach

Johnston Withers can assist you by providing advice about your rights and responsibilities at law. We are also highly skilled in litigation, and can be a powerful advocate for you in any Court or Tribunal proceedings. In addition, we are experienced in utilising alternative dispute resolution methods in order to assure you receive the best, and most cost effective, result.

Intellectual property disputes

Your intellectual property is an extremely valuable asset to your business, and it is important it is protected. Johnston Withers is highly experienced in this field and can provide you with expert advice on protecting and enforcing your intellectual property rights.

Particularly when starting a new business, or where you believe your property rights have been infringed, it is crucial to act as a failure to do so can be extremely damaging to your business. Our team will give you honest and practical advice on all matters regarding intellectual property, including trademarks, patents, copyright and passing off laws.

Building disputes

There are many instances where building disputes may arise. Johnston Withers has significant experience acting for home owners, trades persons, developers and subcontractors in this area.

In particular, we have experience acting in disputes regarding the following:

  • defective building work
  • incomplete building work
  • unpaid work
  • variations to building agreements
  • design clarifications
  • contract interpretation
  • payment claims for contractors under the Building and Construction Industry Security Payment Act 2009 (SA)

We will provide a practical and honest assessment of your situation and then give advice about the possible courses of action. We can then act on your behalf in negotiations, making submissions and, if necessary, pursuing litigation or alternative dispute resolution methods. At all times we will ensure we are acting in the most effective and cost-efficient way to enable you to achieve the best results with the least cost and inconvenience.

Debt recovery

Johnston Withers can assist you to recover your personal or professional debt, for example for work completed by you or money owed due to the terms of a contract. Sometimes you may also be entitled to interest or compensation for legal costs.

We understand the need to resolve disputes in an efficient and cost-effective way. Therefore, our team will work with you to enact a strategy that puts your financial interests first. Often, a simple letter of demand from a solicitor will encourage a debtor to make payment. However, we are also highly skilled in Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution if this should become necessary.

If you are owed a debt, it is important to get honest advice about your options for recovery. In order to maximise your chances of recovering, you should keep detailed records such as copies of invoices, bank statements, letters and emails. Time limits also apply so it is important to receive advice as soon as possible after the debt comes into existence.

Planning disputes

Johnston Withers has significant experience advising individuals and businesses with regard to developmental planning. Our expertise in this area means we are also well positioned to assist clients if disputes arise.

Our approach is efficient and pragmatic, with a focus on providing practical and honest advice as well as strong and effective advocacy. We can assist clients in lodging any documents to contest the development, and also represent them in any relevant proceedings.

Our team is also highly skilled in utilising alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and arbitration to ensure the best result in the most cost effective way.

It is important to seek advice in regard to planning disputes as early as possible in order to maximise your avenues for resolution, so do not hesitate to contact Johnston Withers for advice.

Contested wills

Johnston Withers has considerable experience acting for both Plaintiffs and Defendants in matters relating to contested estates. We can act where the validity of the Will is in dispute, or where further provision is sought under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act despite the Will being otherwise valid.

Some Wills are challenged when it is alleged that a person did not have the mental capacity to sign the Will, or that someone applied undue pressure to the person when the Will was created.

Wills are also often disputed by a spouse or children when they feel they were not adequately provided for in the Will. This can be especially difficult when there are blended families and several people with competing interests.

Johnston Withers recognises the complexity of these matters and will always act with integrity to help ensure the maintenance of family relationships after the dispute has been resolved.

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